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Bataan ARG and 26th MEU(SOC) Cross-Decks At Sea to Prepare for Distributed Operations
31 Jul 2023

The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)) showcased their relevance and operational flexibility as the Joint Staff Immediate Response Force by executing a successful cross deck of personnel and equipment, July 25, 2023.

Prior to departing the East Coast for their scheduled deployment, personnel and equipment was strategically embarked and spread across the Bataan ARG to support operations within the U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. 5th Fleet areas of operations. The concept of distributing the equipment and personnel across the three ships is to ensure each ship is ready and capable to support different missions simultaneously in the case the Bataan ARG had to support distributed operations across the Tri-Geographic Combatant Command region.

On June 20th, the Department of Defense announced that a portion of the Bataan ARG, USS Bataan and USS Carter Hall, will deploy personnel and equipment to U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) to demonstrate the U.S.’ commitment to ensuring freedom of navigation and deterring Iranian destabilization activities in the region. While the USS Bataan (LHD 5) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) are set to execute a mission in (USCENTCOM) the USS Mesa Verde will continue supporting operations, activities, and investments (OAI) within U.S. European Command (USEUCOM).

Before disaggregating the Bataan ARG, an important task is to ensure each ship has the personnel and equipment necessary to successful execute their respective missions. The concept of cross decking is taking equipment and personnel from one ship to another, by either a service connector method, such as the Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) or by air, with a CH-53E Super Stallion.

The integration of the Navy and Marine Corps teams was crucial for mission success. “The integration was smooth and simultaneous,” said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Newman, Mobility and Team Embarkation Officer, assigned to USS Mesa Verde. “We worked closely with the Navy to ensure our load plan was coordinated with the LCACs. It really was a team effort to ensure there were enough LCAC runs for all of the equipment we wanted to cross deck.”

The amount of gear, personnel and timeline made this a unique and impressive cross deck. “I have only done one other cross deck in my career and that was in 2009,” Newman continued. “But this was unique due to the amount of pre-planning that was required, the amount of gear being moved and the small space we had to move it all.” Newman said.

"The combined effort and dedication of the Marines and Sailors of the USS Mesa Verde enabled the successful completion of today's cross deck operation,” said U.S. Navy Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert B. Plumb, Combat Cargo Officer assigned to USS Mesa Verde. “No victory is ever achieved alone."

“The Marines of Combat Cargo and the Sailors of Deck department work hand in hand to ensure the safe and efficient cross decking of Landing Force equipment prior to Mesa Verde's disaggregation from the Amphibious Readiness Group” said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kyle D Sheidy, Combat Cargo Officer assigned to USS Carter Hall.

Supporting missions for two different Combatant Commanders highlights the Bataan ARG and 26th MEU(SOC) as the reliable force of choice and how the Bataan ARG and 26th MEU(SOC) worked to ensure all three ships were set up for success to support their respective missions with the right personnel and equipment.

The Bataan ARG and embarked 26th MEU (SOC), under the tactical command and control of Task Force 61/2, is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. 6th Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. 6th Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.